Common causes of project failure

Causes of failure

Common Causes of failure

In 2004, the Office of Government Commerce and the NAO published the now well known common causes of failure for major ‘acquisition-based’ programmes and projects. While project practitioners have since extended this list, here’s a summary of the common causes which remains a useful checklist for all major projects and programmes.

These are the common causes of failure to proactively avoid:

  1. Alignment – Lack of clear link between the project and the organisation’s key strategic priorities, including agreed measures of success.
  2. Sponsorship – Lack of clear senior management and (Ministerial) ownership and leadership.
  3. Engagement – Lack of effective engagement with stakeholders.
  4. Capability – Lack of skills and proven approach to project management and risk management.
  5. Phases – Too little attention to breaking development and implementation into manageable steps.
  6. Benefits – Evaluation of proposals driven by initial price rather than long-term value for money (especially securing delivery of business benefits).
  7. Supply – Lack of understanding of and contact with the supply industry at senior levels in the organisation.
  8. Integration – Lack of effective project team integration between clients, the supplier team and the supply chain

Each of the eight areas has a list of associated questions, available from the Cabinet Office here.